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A preschool boy is participating in a craft at a table. He has made quite a mess!
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10 Simple Solutions to Common Children’s Ministry Messes

Children’s ministry messes are going to happen. Here’s are 10 solutions for the most common messes you’ll face.


Uh, oh! Those words, spoken by a child, can send a chill of dread down the spine of every teacher — what catastrophe awaits? Kids seem to naturally attract small disasters…it’s a wonder the custodian and church board don’t grill you weekly about the state of your classroom carpet!

Never fear — our disaster guide is here! We’ve got simple ways to solve some of your worst problems. Use these solutions to get out of a jam the next time classroom disasters strike — and your reply to “Uh-oh!” will be a calm, “No problem!”

10 Simple Solutions to Common Children’s Ministry Messes

Children’s Ministry Mess #1: Gobs of Glue

Glue: a classroom necessity, a potential cleanup nightmare. Here’s what to do when you’ve got glue everywhere.

  • Fresh Glue: Scrape off as much of the glue as possible, blotting fresh glue with paper towels while it’s wet. Scrub the area with a cloth dipped in white vinegar. Then soak the area with warm water and blot it, repeating with vinegar if needed.
  • Dried Glue: For dried glue, scrub the area with a cloth dipped in Goof Off solvent (available at hardware stores or www.valspar.com). Do a color-safe test before applying this solvent.

Children’s Ministry Mess #2: Mishaps with Markers

Marker lesson number one: Never allow permanent markers to infiltrate your classroom. Marker lesson number two: Follow this guide the next time markers leave a colorful impression on your classroom.

  • Fabric Stains: For marker stains on fabric, dot the stain with a baby wipe. The glycerine content in the wipes will keep it from setting in. Then apply a spot remover (pet stain spot remover works well), and wash.
  • Dry-Erase Boards: For regular or permanent marker on adry-erase board, simply color over the entire area of the marker stain with a dry-erase marker, let it sit for about 10 seconds, then wipe it away. For older stains, you may need to do this a few times. This technique can be used on other nonporous surfaces as well.
  • Wood Stains: For marker on wood, gently erase the marks with a pencil eraser.
  • Fresh Marker: For fresh marker stains, put white toothpaste on a toothbrush and gently scrub the surface for 45 seconds. Let it stand for one minute, then wipe away the stain with a damp cloth.

Children’s Ministry Mess #3: Crayon Catastrophes

Kids love crayons. After all, they color on just about anything! Here’s what to do when kids color a little too far outside the lines.

  • Carpet and Clothing: Sur­pris­ingly, Murphy Oil Soap will pull crayon out of carpet and clothing. Apply it full-strength to the stain and use a wet white cloth to wipe away the stain.
  • Hard Surfaces: On walls, rub the area with a dryer sheet to remove crayon marks. This also works for removing crayon from TVscreens.
  • Wall Marks: Use WD-40 to remove crayon from walls. Just spray and rub away the marking with a cloth. After removing the crayon, wipe the area with a gentle cleanser.
  • Other Surfaces: To remove crayon from various surfaces, mix a little baking soda and water together to make a paste. Scrub the area with the mixture on a sponge. Spray the area with a cleaner to remove the mixture, and you’re done.
  • Almost All Other Marks: For a chemical-free solution to remove crayon marks, just raid the pantry for a piece of bread and rub the spots with it.

Children’s Ministry Mess #4: Bodily Fluids

Follow OSHA requirements for clean up and disinfecting of bodily fluids. Wear gloves and a mask, and dispose of all cleaning materials properly.

  • Blood Stains: Wet the area with cold water. Then apply a paste of meat tenderizer and water, and rub it into the stain. Let the paste sit for a few minutes and wash.
  • Urine Odor: Combine 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water and sponge the area.
  • Vomit Stains: Remove solid matter then apply shaving cream. Let it sit for five minutes then scrub the stain clean.
  • Vomit Odor: Sprinkle unused coffee grounds onto the affected area and leave for several hours. Remove the loose grounds and then vacuum. Do not put coffee on carpeting when the stain is still wet or you’ll end up with a brand-new stain to deal with. Trust us. Or sprinkle the affected area generously with baking soda. Wait an hour, remove any wet clumps, and vacuum.

Children’s Ministry Mess #5: Pulverized Play Dough

We love play dough! Not only is it tons of fun, but it’s also the easiest disaster to recover from!

  • Ground-In: The best way to deal with ground-in play dough in carpet, fabrics, and upholstery is to do nothing. Simply allow it to dry completely. Then loosen it with a stiff brush such as a pet-hair brush, and vacuum up the bits. Don’t use heat, water, or cleaning solutions or you’ll end up with a colorful, soggy mess.

Children’s Ministry Mess #6: Stuck-On Stickers

Stickers seem to find their way onto almost every imaginable surface in the classroom-including the floor. Here’s a guide forgetting them unstuck.

  • Gummy Residue: Use Goo Gone solvent to disolve the adhesive and remove the sticker. You can also use nail-polish remover if you can’t get Goo Gone.• Delicate Surfaces-Spread a thin layer of peanut butteron the sticker only and leave it overnight. In the morning, simplywipe it off.• Non-Wood Surfaces-Rub a little petroleum jelly on thesticker and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then wipe the sticker offand use some cleanser to remove the petroleum residue.

Children’s Ministry Mess #7: Soda and Kool-Aid Fiascos

Food and drinks are the stuff children’s ministry is made of. So it’s no wonder that the carpet has the same eye-catching array of stains as Kool-Aid’s entire flavor catalog. Here’s how to get bright-colored drinks out of your carpet and upholstery.

  • Fresh Stains: Spray the fresh stain with Lysol Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner spray. This also works well for removing soft-drink stains from counters.
  • Spills: Completely cover the stain with salt. After it’s dry, vacuum up the salt, which will absorb the moisture and color from the carpet.
  • Set-In Stains: Scrub the stain with a baby wipe.

Children’s Ministry Mess #8: Baby Formula Flubs

Baby formula seems harmless enough, but it can leave foul-smelling stains that are next to impossible to remove. Use these tips to get it out quick.

  • Spills on Light Colors: For white items, moisten the stained area with lemon juice and put it out in the sun, then wash as usual. The lemon juice will bleach the stain.
  • Clothing: Make a paste of meat tenderizer and water, and rub it into the stain. Let it sit for an hour and then wash as usual. Meat tenderizer breaks down the protein in formula.
  • Stain Preventer: Apply a Biz or Axion enzyme presoak.

Children’s Ministry Mess #9: Gruesome Gum Goofs

It’s not an exaggeration to say that gum can be a teacher’s worst nightmare. Think gum in hair, gum on shoes, and gum on desks. Need we say more?

  • Hair and Clothing: Apply ice to the gum to harden it. Then scrape it off with a dull knife or credit card.
  • Carpet: Spray the gum with aerosol compressed air. This will freeze the gum and make it brittle. Lightly rub the gum with a credit card-it’ll break into small pieces. Vacuum up the pieces before they thaw. (Don’t get the Freon refrigerant from the compressed air on your skin.)
  • Other Surfaces: Rub peanut butter into the gum and wipe it up with a paper towel.
  • Hard Surfaces: Pull the gum up with a piece of duct tape.

Children’s Ministry Mess #10: Paint Pandemonium

Kids and teachers love paint-it’s a great creative tool. But it’s an unmatched disaster when it lands on your floor.

Fresh Spills: Soak up as much paint as possible with a dry towel; don’t rub the spill-that will make it worse. Then pour a large amount of Dawn dishwashing soap into a bucket and add a small amount of water. Soak a clean towel in the soapy water and apply it to the spill. Wring out the towel and repeat the process until the paint is gone. Note: If you’ve got a large spill, don’t try to fix it yourself. Call a carpet cleaner immediately.

Dried Paint: Gojo hand cleaner will remove dried paint from carpet (www.gojo.com). Apply some to the spot and let it sit for a few minutes. Then rub the stain with a clean, dry cloth.

Carpet Stains: Apply dry-cleaning solution or acetone nail polish remover to a clean cloth and then wipe the stain (test nail polish remover on a hidden area first to ensure colorfastness). Don’t pour the solutions onto the carpet or they’ll dissolve the carpet adhesive.

Predisaster Solutions    

The best defense is a good offense, right? So here are some ideas to help prevent these kinds of disasters from happening in the first place.

  • Protect flooring. Purchase lots of cheap plastic tablecloths (look for them on clearance after summer holidays) or shower curtain liners. Spread them on the floor under tables and chairs before beginning potentially messy or spillable crafts
  • Use classroom-friendly supplies. Use erasable or washable markers in the classroom-don’t allow any other types of markers, especially permanent ones, in classes for kids under age 10.
  • Secure supplies. Keep all craft supplies in a high or locked cabinet so curious little ones can’t get into them when your back’s turned.
  • Ration spillable items. Dole out small amounts of glue, paint, glitter, and other messy supplies in small paper cups. This limits the size of a potential spill vs. emptying the entire bottle on the table or floor.
  • Stock up. Finally, stock a child-proof supply cabinet with plenty of cleaning weapons that have multiple uses: vinegar, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, Goo Gone, dish soap, stain sprays, baby wipes, and lots of paper towels.

Kristi Rector previously was a copy editor for Children’s Ministry Magazine.

For more great articles like this in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!


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10 Simple Solutions to Common Childre...

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